The Grapes of Wrath

AFI Rank: #21
Year Released: 1940
Director: John Ford
Actors: Henry Fonda

John Steinbeck wrote a series of articles in the 1930s, bringing to light the awful situations of the Depression and laying out to all just how horrific the conditions were for people. By 1940, there was enough material to put together this classic movie by John Ford.

Lisa Says:
We all know the Depression was awful. There were people starving, families collapsing. It's hard to really get a sense of just how powerful it was, though. John Steinbeck's articles and books on the topic led to this award winning (AFI #21) movie by John Ford. What's ironic is that some people felt the movie was too extremist about the conditions - but research has shown that it actually was tame compared to situations that really went on.

We begin with a family in Oklahoma who is literally kicked out of their home, with nowhere to go. Flyers are being passed around about a ton of work being available in California. So they pile their entire household of goods and head out. Unfortunately, so does pretty much every starving person - and California is innundated with workers. The Okies are treated poorly, given dirt poor wages and run out of town.

It's amazing that the books are banned in schools - especially in the midwest! I definitely recommend watching this movie as an important history lesson about what our ancestors struggled through - and a reminder not to let this happen again. Once you get started with the movie, pick up the books to get an even more full story.

I watched this early in my AFI list process, before I was thinking about male vs female actors or the Bechdel test. I am pretty sure that there was just one main female actress, the mom, but let me know if there were others.

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AFI Top 100 Film Listing
Male vs Female Actors in the AFI Top 100
The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100